The effort to understand the Earth's climate system requires a complete integration of remote sensing imager data across time and multiple countries. Such an integration necessarily requires ensuring inter-consistency between multiple sensors to create the data sets needed to understand the climate system. Past efforts at inter-consistency have forced agreement between two sensors using sources that are viewed by both sensors at nearly the same time, and thus tend to be near polar regions over snow and ice. The current work describes a method that would provide an absolute radiometric calibration of a sensor rather than an inter-consistency of a sensor relative to another. The approach also relies on defensible error budgets that eventually provides a cross comparison of sensors without systematic errors. The basis of the technique is a model-based, SI-traceable prediction of at-sensor radiance over selected sites. The predicted radiance would be valid for arbitrary view and illumination angles and for any date of interest that is dominated by clear-sky conditions. The effort effectively works to characterize the sites as sources with known top-of-atmosphere radiance allowing accurate intercomparison of sensor data that without the need for coincident views. Data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection and Radiometer (ASTER), Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are used to demonstrate the difficulties of cross calibration as applied to current sensors. Special attention is given to the differences caused in the cross-comparison of sensors in radiance space as opposed to reflectance space. The radiance comparisons lead to significant differences created by the specific solar model used for each sensor. The paper also proposes methods to mitigate the largest error sources in future systems. The results from these historical intercomparisons provide the basis for a set of recommendations to ensure future SI-traceable cross calibration using future missions such as CLARREO and TRUTHS. The paper describes a proposed approach that relies on model-based, SI-traceable predictions of at-sensor radiance over selected sites. The predicted radiance would be valid for arbitrary view and illumination angles and for any date of interest that is dominated by clear-sky conditions. The basis of the method is highly accurate measurements of at-sensor radiance of sufficient quality to understand the spectral and BRDF characteristics of the site and sufficient historical data to develop an understanding of temporal effects from changing surface and atmospheric conditions.